Interview with Zabou

Photo credit: Ali Kubba

Originally from France, Zabou moved to and started painting London in 2012. She has since then been on a self-appointed mission to paint as much of the capital as possible. With a seemingly endless supply of fresh designs to work with, Zabou is very much one of London’s most proactive artists.

Her works are striking, humorous and thought-provoking, set to elicit a range of emotions upon viewing, depending on the message each mural conveys. Working with a combination of stencil and freehand techniques, she likes to question society and to poke fun at conformists. First and foremost however is the fact that each of Zabou’s subjects are drawn from her personal experiences, taking what she sees around her and projecting it to a new audience.

Beyond this, and what is fundamental about Zabou’s work, is her innate ability to integrate the location and surroundings with her artworks: not just wishing to paint on the street, she makes them part of the street. The pieces harmonise with their surroundings and in turn create something which allows its audience to engage with the work as an installation. This is the very essence of street art and something few artists master, but certainly one of Zabou’s greatest talents.


Hi Zabou, today you selected for Music On Walls three of your artworks inspired by music.

Can you tell MoW why you chose to create artworks inspired by music?


Portrait of Grandmaster Flash

I was planning a trip to the US and arranged a wall in South Bronx (thanks to the TAG public art project). I wanted to paint Grandmaster Flash as he is a local legend and icon of hip hop - which I love.







Portrait of Kaytranada

Kaytranada is my favorite DJ, I just can't stop listening to his music. I wanted to pay him tribute so I painted his portrait at a festival. The glasses are made of mirror vinyl so they catch reflection of the surroundings.



Portrait of Willow Smith "Plugged In"

Willow Smith is the model for this mural however it was an aesthetic choice, not a musical one. 

‘Plugged In’ is an artwork depicting a woman plugging headphones into her heart. 

A Screen Print ‘Plugged In’ is now available on Zabou's website








Do you have a favorite piece between the ones presented today?

I love the Grandmaster Flash portrait as it is my first ever mural in the USA. It also totally fits its surroundings (South Bronx) and I'm very happy with my technique on that one.

Why is music important to you, in your life and in your art? 

Music has always been in my life since very little. Only recently I've started to feature it in my art, but it has always accompanied me while creating. Music connects people and makes them feeling happy. It's a beautiful thing.

Do you have plans on creating new artworks inspired by music/musicians ?

Not yet!

Can you tell MoW more about your techniques and how long does it takes you to make an artwork?

When painting a mural I use a mixed technique combining stencils (to trace my design quickly) and free hand (for shades and colors). I also use emulsion for effects sometimes. From designing to painting, it takes between a day to a few days to complete a mural.

Do you listen to music when your working ?

I do, I always have my speaker or my headphones plugged in when I paint. It motivates me and give me energy. I listen to a mix of everything: hip hop, house, electro, DNB, rock, jazz, trip hop, reggae...

What is the song you liked the most lately? 

I re-discovered Armand Van Helden's "You Don't Know Me" - it made me jump around! Such a great tune.

What was the last gig you went to ?

The last gig I went to would be Australian DJ Flume, and I'm going to see Kurrupt FM soon - should be epic! I'm going clubbing mostly.

Are you a musician yourself?

I played the piano for a few years when I was younger, I loved it. I've never started playing again since then - not enough space for a piano and not enough time.